LV2 is an interface for writing audio processors, or plugins, in C/C++ which can be dynamically loaded into many applications, or hosts. This core specification is simple and minimal, but is designed so that extensions can be defined to add more advanced features, making it possible to implement nearly any feature imaginable.

LV2 maintains a strong distinction between code and data. Plugin code is in a shared library, while data is in a companion data file written in Turtle. Code, data, and any other resources (e.g. waveforms) are shipped together in a bundle directory. The code contains only the executable portions of the plugin which inherently must be written in code. All other data is provided in the data file(s). This makes plugin data flexible and extensible, and allows the host to do everything but run the plugin without loading or executing any code. Among other advantages, this makes hosts more robust (broken plugins can't crash a host during discovery) and allows generic tools and non-C programs to work with LV2 data. LV2 itself and extensions are distributed in a similar way.

An LV2 plugin library is suitable for dynamic loading (e.g. via dlopen()) and provides one or more plugin descriptors via lv2_descriptor() or lv2_lib_descriptor(). These can be instantiated to create plugin instances, which can be run directly on data or connected together to perform advanced signal processing tasks.

Plugins communicate via ports, which can transmit any type of data. Data is processed by first connecting each port to a buffer, then repeatedly calling a plugin's run() method to process blocks of data.

This core specification defines two types of port, equivalent to those in LADSPA: lv2:ControlPort and lv2:AudioPort. Audio ports contain arrays with one float element per sample, allowing a block of audio to be processed in a single call to run(). Control ports contain single float values, which are fixed and valid for the duration of the call to run(). Thus the control rate is determined by the block size, which is controlled by the host (and not necessarily constant).

Threading Rules

To faciliate use in multi-threaded programs, LV2 functions are partitioned into several threading classes:

Discovery Class Instantiation Class Audio Class
lv2_descriptor() LV2_Descriptor::instantiate() LV2_Descriptor::run()
lv2_lib_descriptor() LV2_Descriptor::cleanup() LV2_Descriptor::connect_port()
LV2_Descriptor::extension_data() LV2_Descriptor::activate()

The rules that hosts MUST follow are:

Any simultaneous calls that are not explicitly forbidden by these rules are allowed. For example, a host may call run() for two different plugin instances simultaneously.

Plugin functions in any class MUST NOT manipulate any state which might affect other plugin or host code, e.g. by using non-reentrant global functions.

Extensions to this specification which add new functions MUST declare in which of these classes the functions belong, define new classes for them, or otherwise precisely describe their threading rules.





Subclass ofFilterPlugin


Subclass ofDynamicsPlugin


Subclass ofUtilityPlugin

Any plugin that analyses input to output some useful information.


Subclass ofPort
Audio Port

Ports of this type will be connected to an array of length sample_count with elements of C type float.


Subclass ofFilterPlugin


Subclass ofPort
CV Port

Ports of this type have the same buffer format as an lv2:AudioPort, except the buffer represents audio-rate control data rather than audio. Like an lv2:ControlPort, a CVPort SHOULD have properties describing its value (e.g. lv2:minimum, lv2:maximum, and lv2:default), and may be presented to the user as a control.

It is generally safe to connect an audio output to a CV input, but not vice versa. Hosts SHOULD take care to prevent data from a CVPort port from being used as audio.


Subclass ofDesignation

A specific channel, e.g. left or right. A channel may be audio, or another type such as a MIDI control stream.


Subclass ofModulatorPlugin


Subclass ofFilterPlugin


Subclass ofDynamicsPlugin


Subclass ofGeneratorPlugin


Subclass ofPort
Control Port

Ports of this type will be connected to a pointer to a single value of C type float.


Subclass ofUtilityPlugin

Any plugin that converts some form of input into a different form of output.


Subclass ofPlugin

Plugins that intentionally delay their input signal as an effect.


Subclass ofrdf:Property

The designation (or assignment) of an input or output. A designation is metadata that describes the meaning or role of data. By assigning a designation to a port using lv2:designation, the port's content becomes meaningful and can be used more intelligently by the host.


Subclass ofPlugin


Subclass ofPlugin

Plugins that alter the envelope or dynamic range of audio.


Subclass ofFilterPlugin


Subclass ofDynamicsPlugin


Subclass ofDynamicsPlugin


In range ofextensionData
Extension Data

Additional data and/or functions a plugin may return from LV2_Descriptor::extension_data() which can be used to add additional API beyond that defined by LV2_Descriptor.


In range ofoptionalFeature

An additional feature which a plugin or other resource may use or require.


Subclass ofPlugin


Subclass ofModulatorPlugin


Subclass ofUtilityPlugin


Subclass ofDynamicsPlugin


Subclass ofPlugin

Any plugin that generates sound internally, rather than processing its input.


Subclass ofFilterPlugin


Subclass ofPort
Input Port

Ports of this type will be connected to a pointer to some value, which will be read by the plugin during their run method.


Subclass ofGeneratorPlugin

Any plugin that is intended to be played as a musical instrument.


Subclass ofDynamicsPlugin


Subclass ofFilterPlugin


Subclass ofPlugin


Subclass ofUtilityPlugin

A plugin which mixes some number of inputs into some number of outputs.


Subclass ofPlugin


Subclass ofEQPlugin


Subclass ofGeneratorPlugin


Subclass ofPort
Output Port

Ports of this type will be connected to a pointer to some value, which will be written to by the plugin during their run method.


Subclass ofEQPlugin


Subclass ofDesignation

A parameter, i.e. a recognized property. A parameter is a designation for a control.

A parameter defines the meaning of a control (not the method of conveying its value). The standard way of exposing a plugin parameter is via an lv2:ControlPort, which can be given a parameter designation with lv2:designation. Other methods, such as setting dynamic parameters via messages, are possible but not defined here.


Subclass ofModulatorPlugin


Subclass ofSpectralPlugin
Pitch Shifter


Subclass ofPluginBase
In range ofappliesTo

The class which represents an LV2 plugin.

To be discovered by hosts, plugins MUST explicitly have rdf:type lv2:Plugin listed in their bundle's manifest, e.g.:

<> a lv2:Plugin .

Plugins SHOULD have a doap:license property whenever possible. The doap:name property should be at most a few words in length using title capitalization, e.g. Tape Delay Unit. Use doap:shortdesc or doap:description for more detailed descriptions.

Restriction on doap:name
owl:someValuesFrom rdf:PlainLiteral
A plugin MUST have at least one untranslated doap:name.
Restriction on port
owl:allValuesFrom Port
All ports on a plugin MUST be fully specified lv2:Port instances.


In domain ofport
Plugin Base

An abstract plugin-like resource that MAY not actually be an LV2 plugin (e.g. may not actually have a plugin binary).

PluginBase SHOULD be used as a base type for any resource that may have ports or otherwise mimic the structure of a Plugin (e.g. a preset), since hosts and other tools already understand this structure.



A Point describes an interesting value in a Port's range (much like a labeled notch on a physical knob).

  • A Point MUST have at least one rdfs:label which is a string.
  • A Point MUST have exactly one rdf:value with a type that is compatible with the type of the corresponding Port.


Subclass ofPortBase
In domain ofportProperty

The class which represents an LV2 port.

All LV2 port descriptions MUST have a rdf:type that is one of lv2:Port lv2:InputPort or lv2:OutputPort. Additionally there MUST be at least one other rdf:type which more precisely describes type of the port (e.g. lv2:AudioPort).

Hosts that do not support a specific port class MUST NOT instantiate the plugin, unless that port has the connectionOptional property set (in which case the host can simply connect that port to NULL). If a host is interested in plugins to insert in a certain signal path (e.g. stereo audio), it SHOULD consider all the classes of a port to determine which ports are most suitable for connection (e.g. by ignoring ports with additional classes the host does not recognize).

A port has two identifiers: a (numeric) index, and a (textual) symbol. The index can be used as an identifier at run-time, but persistent references to ports (e.g. in a saved preset) MUST use the symbol. A symbol is guaranteed to refer to the same port on all plugins with a given URI. An index does NOT necessarily refer to the same port on all plugins with a given URI (i.e. the index for a port may differ between plugin binaries).

Restriction on name
owl:minCardinality 1
A port MUST have at least one lv2:name.


In range ofport
Port Base

Similar to lv2:PluginBase, an abstract port-like resource that MAY not actually be a fully specified LV2 port. For example, this is used for preset "ports" which do not specify an index.

Restriction on symbol
owl:cardinality 1
A port MUST have exactly one lv2:symbol.


In range ofportProperty
Port Property

A property of this port that allows a host to make more sensible decisions (e.g. to provide a better interface).


Subclass ofPoint
In range ofscalePoint
Scale Point

A single float Point (for control inputs).


Subclass ofPlugin

Plugins that aim to duplicate the effect of some environmental effect or musical equipment.


Subclass ofPlugin

Plugins that manipulate the position of audio in space (e.g. panning, stereo width, surround encoding, etc.).


Subclass ofdoap:Project

An LV2 specification (i.e. this specification, or an LV2 extension).

Specification data, like plugin data, is distributed in bundles so hosts may discover all present LV2 data.


Subclass ofPlugin

Plugins that alter the spectral properties (e.g. frequency) of audio.


In range ofsymbol
owl:onDatatype xsd:string

A short restricted name used as a machine and human readable identifier. The first character must be one of _, a-z or A-Z and subsequent characters can be from _, a-z, A-Z and 0-9. This is a valid C identifier, and compatible in most other contexts with restricted string identifiers (e.g. file paths).


Subclass ofPlugin

Includes things like mathematical functions and non-musical delays.


Subclass ofDistortionPlugin



TypeObject Property
applies to

Specifies that a resource is related to a plugin. This is primarily intended for discovery purposes: bundles that describe resources that work with particular plugins (e.g. presets or user interfaces) SHOULD use this predicate in manifest.ttl to relate the resource to the applicable plugin(s), e.g.:

    a             ext:Thing ;
    lv2:appliesTo <plugin> ;
    rdfs:seeAlso  <thing.ttl> .

Particularly for large amounts of data, this is preferable to extending the plugin description with rdfs:seeAlso since the host may choose if/when to load the data, knowing that it describes an additional resource and not the plugin itself.


TypeObject Property

The binary of an LV2 resource. The value of this property must be a URI that resolves to a shared library object (the actual type of this library is system specific).

This is a required property of a Plugin which MUST be included in the bundle's manifest.ttl file. The lv2:binary of an lv2:Plugin is the shared object containing the lv2_descriptor() or lv2_lib_descriptor() function which can be used to access the descriptor for that plugin. This property may be used similarly by extensions to relate other resources to their implementations.


TypeDatatype Property

The default value that the host SHOULD set this port to when there is no other information available.


TypeObject Property

Indicates a channel or parameter designation.

This property is used to give the port's contents a well-defined meaning. For example, if a port has lv2:designation eg:gain, then the value of that port represents the eg:gain of the plugin instance.

Ports should be given designations whenever a well-defined designation exists. This allows the host to act more intelligently and/or provide a more effective user interface. For example, if the plugin has a BPM parameter, the host may automatically set that parameter to the current tempo.


TypeAnnotation Property

Relates a Resource to documentation markup. The value of this property MUST be a string literal which is a valid XHTML Basic 1.1 fragment suitable for use as the content of the <body> element. This can be used by hosts to provide rich online documentation or by tools to generate external documentation pages. The standard language tagging facility of RDF can be used to provide multi-lingual documentation.

XHTML Basic is a W3C Recommendation which defines a basic subset of XHTML intended to be reasonable to implement with limited resources (e.g. on embedded devices). See XHTML Basic, Section 3 for a list of legal tags.


TypeDatatype Property

Whether or not processing is currently enabled, that is, not bypassed.

If this value is greater than zero, the plugin processes normally. If this value is zero, the plugin is expected to bypass all signals unmodified. The plugin must provide a click-free transition between the enabled and disabled (bypassed) states.

Values less than zero are reserved for future use (such as click-free insertion/removal of latent plugins), and should be treated like zero (bypassed) by current implementations.


TypeObject Property
extension data

Signifies that a plugin provides additional data or functions (as defined by some extension) via LV2_Descriptor::instantiate().


TypeDatatype Property

Whether or not processing is currently free-wheeling. If true, this means that all processing is happening as quickly as possible, not in real-time. When free-wheeling there is no relationship between the passage of real wall-clock time and the passage of time in the data being processed (e.g. audio frames).


TypeDatatype Property

A non-negative zero-based 32-bit index.


TypeDatatype Property

The latency introduced, in frames.


TypeDatatype Property

A hint to the host for the maximum useful value that the port will use. This is a soft limit; the plugin is required to gracefully accept all values in the range of a port's data type.


TypeDatatype Property
micro version

The micro component of a Resource's version.

Releases of plugins and extensions MUST be explicitly versioned. Correct version numbers MUST always be maintained for any versioned resource that is published. For example, after a release, if a change is made in the development version in source control, the micro version MUST be incremented (to an odd number) to distinguish this modified version from the previous release.

This property describes half of a resource version. For detailed documentation on LV2 resource versioning, see lv2:minorVersion.


TypeDatatype Property

A hint to the host for the minimum useful value that the port will use. This is a soft limit; the plugin is required to gracefully accept all values in the range of a port's data type.


TypeDatatype Property
minor version

The minor version of an LV2 Resource. This, along with lv2:microVersion, is used to distinguish between different versions of the same resource, e.g. to load only the bundle with the most recent version of a plugin. An LV2 version has a minor and micro number with the usual semantics:

  • The minor version MUST be incremented when backwards (but not forwards) compatible additions are made, e.g. the addition of a port to a plugin.
  • The micro version is incremented for changes which do not affect compatibility at all, e.g. bug fixes or documentation updates.

Note there is deliberately no major version; all versions with the same URI are compatible by definition. Replacing a resource with a newer version of that resource MUST NOT break anything. If a change violates this rule, then the URI of the resource (which serves as the major version) MUST be changed.

Plugins and extensions MUST adhere to at least the following rules:

  • All versions of a plugin with a given URI MUST have the same set of mandatory (i.e. not lv2:connectionOptional) ports with respect to lv2:symbol and rdf:type. In other words, every port on a particular version is guaranteed to exist on a future version with same lv2:symbol and at least those rdf:types.
  • New ports MAY be added without changing the plugin URI if and only if they are lv2:connectionOptional and the minor version is incremented.
  • The minor version MUST be incremented if the index of any port (identified by its symbol) is changed.
  • All versions of a specification MUST be compatible in the sense that an implementation of the new version can interoperate with an implementation of any previous version.

Anything that depends on a specific version of a plugin (e.g. a serialisation that references ports by index) MUST refer to the plugin by both URI and version. However, implementations should be tolerant and extensions should be designed such that there is no need to do this (e.g. indices should only be meaningful for a particular plugin instance at run-time).

When hosts discover several installed versions of a resource, they SHOULD warn the user and load only the most recent version.

An odd minor or micro version, or minor version zero, indicates that the resource is a development version. Hosts and tools SHOULD clearly indicate this wherever appropriate. Minor version zero is a special case for pre-release development of plugins, or experimental plugins that are not intended for stable use at all. Hosts SHOULD NOT expect such a plugin to remain compatible with any future version. If possible, hosts SHOULD hide such plugins from users unless an experimental option is enabled.


TypeDatatype Property

A display name for labeling in a user interface. Unlike lv2:symbol this is unrestricted and may be translated. The lv2:name MUST NOT be used as an identifier. This property is required for Ports, but MUST NOT be used by the host for port identification. The plugin author may change the values of this property without changing the Plugin URI.


TypeObject Property
optional feature

Signifies that a plugin or other resource supports a certain feature. If the host supports this feature, it MUST pass its URI and any additional data to the plugin in LV2_Descriptor::instantiate(). The plugin MUST NOT fail to instantiate if an optional feature is not supported by the host.


TypeObject Property

A port (input or output) on this plugin.


TypeObject Property
port property

Relates Ports to PortProperties. The PortProperty may be ignored without catastrophic effects, though it may be useful e.g. for providing a sensible interface for the port.


TypeObject Property

The project this is a component of.

This property provides a way to group plugins and/or related resources. A project may have useful metadata common to all plugins (such as homepage, author, version history) which would be wasteful to list separately for each plugin.

Grouping via projects also allows users to find plugins in hosts by project, which is often how they are remembered. For this reason, a project that contains plugins SHOULD always have a doap:name. It is also a good idea for each plugin and the project itself to have an lv2:symbol property, which allows nice quasi-global identifiers for plugins, e.g. myproj.superamp which can be useful for display or fast user entry.


TypeObject Property

The prototype to inherit properties from.

This property can be used to include common properties in several descriptions. If a plugin has a prototype, then the host must load all the properties for the prototype as if they were properties of the plugin. That is, if :plug lv2:prototype :prot, then for each triple :prot p o, the triple :plug p o should be loaded.

This facility is useful for distributing text-only plugins that rely on a common binary, by referring to a prototype which is installed by the corresponding software, along with the plugin binary.


TypeObject Property
required feature

Signifies that a plugin or other resource requires a certain feature. If the host supports this feature, it MUST pass its URI and any additional data to the plugin in LV2_Descriptor::instantiate(). The plugin MUST fail to instantiate if a required feature is not present; hosts SHOULD always check this before attempting to instantiate a plugin (i.e. discovery by attempting to instantiate is strongly discouraged).


TypeObject Property
scale point

A scale point of a port or parameter.


TypeDatatype Property
short name

A short display name for labeling in a user interface. The same rules for port names apply here, with the exception that short names should not be longer than 16 characters.


TypeDatatype Property

The value of this property MUST conform to the rules for lv2:Symbol, and MUST NOT have a language tag.

A symbol is a unique identifier with respect to the parent (e.g. a port's symbol is a unique identifier with respect to its plugin). The plugin author MUST change the plugin URI if a port symbol is changed or removed.



connection optional

Indicates that this port does not have to be connected to valid data by the host. If it is to be disconnected then the port MUST set to NULL with a call to the connectPort method.



The primary control channel. This should be used as the lv2:designation of ports that are used to send commands and receive responses. Typically this will be an event port that supports some protocol, e.g. MIDI or LV2 Atoms.



Indicates that a port's only reasonable values are the scale points defined for that port. A host SHOULD NOT allow a user to set the value of such a port to anything other than a scale point. However, a plugin MUST operate reasonably even if such a port has an input that is not a scale point, preferably by simply choosing the largest enumeration value less than or equal to the actual input value (i.e. round the input value down).


hard real-time capable

Indicates that the plugin is capable of running not only in a conventional host but also in a hard real-time environment. To qualify for this the plugin MUST satisfy all of the following:

  1. The plugin MUST NOT use malloc(), free() or other heap memory management functions within its Audio class functions.
  2. The plugin MUST NOT attempt to make use of any library functions in its Audio class functions, unless those functions themselves adhere to these rules (i.e. are hard realtime safe). The plugin MAY assume the standard C and C math library functions are safe.
  3. The plugin will not access files, devices, pipes, sockets, IPC or any other mechanism that might result in process or thread blocking within its Audio class functions.
  4. The plugin will take an amount of time to execute a run() call approximately of form A + B * sample_count where A and B depend on the machine and host in use. This amount of time MUST NOT depend on input signals or plugin state.

Note these rules apply to the connect_port() function as well as run().


in-place broken

Indicates that the plugin may cease to work correctly if the host elects to use the same data location for both input and output. Plugins that will fail to work correctly if ANY input port is connected to the same location as ANY output port MUST require this Feature. Doing so should be avoided as it makes it impossible for hosts to use the plugin to process data in-place.



Indicates that a port's reasonable values are integers (eg. a user interface would likely wish to provide a stepped control allowing only integer input). A plugin MUST operate reasonably even if such a port has a non-integer input.


is live

Indicates that the plugin has a real-time dependency (e.g. queues data from a socket) and so its output must not be cached or subject to significant latency, and calls to the run method should be done in rapid succession. This property is not related to hard real-time execution requirements (see lv2:hardRTCapable).


is side-chain

Indicates that a port is a "sidechain", which affects the output somehow but should not be considered a main input. Sidechain ports should be connectionOptional, and may be ignored by hosts.


reports latency

Indicates that the port is used to express the processing latency incurred by the plugin, expressed in samples. The latency may be affected by the current sample rate, plugin settings, or other factors, and may be changed by the plugin at any time. Where the latency is frequency dependent the plugin may choose any appropriate value. If a plugin introduces latency it MUST provide EXACTLY ONE port with this property set which informs the host of the correct latency. In fuzzy cases the value output should be the most reasonable based on user expectation of input/output alignment (eg. musical delay/echo plugins should not report their delay as latency, as it is an intentional effect).


sample rate

Indicates that any bounds specified should be interpreted as multiples of the sample rate. For instance, a frequency range from 0Hz to the Nyquist frequency (half the sample rate) could be requested by this property in conjunction with lv2:minimum 0.0 and lv2:maximum 0.5. Hosts that support bounds at all MUST support this property.



Indicates that the data item should be considered a Boolean toggle. Data less than or equal to zero should be considered off or false, and data above zero should be considered on or true.


Version 16.0 (2019-02-03)
  • Add lv2:MIDIPlugin class.
  • Rework port restrictions so that presets can be validated.
Version 14.0 (2016-09-18)
  • Add lv2_util.h with lv2_features_data() and lv2_features_query().
  • Add lv2:enabled designation.
Version 12.4 (2015-04-07)
  • Relax domain of lv2:minimum lv2:maximum and lv2:default so they can be used to describe properties/parameters as well.
  • Add extern C and visibility attribute to LV2_SYMBOL_EXPORT.
  • Add lv2:isSideChain port property.
Version 12.2 (2014-08-08)
  • Clarify lv2_descriptor() and lv2_lib_descriptor() documentation.
Version 12.0 (2014-01-04)
  • Add lv2:prototype for property inheritance.
Version 10.0 (2013-02-17)
  • Add lv2:EnvelopePlugin class.
  • Add lv2:control for designating primary event-based control ports.
  • Set range of lv2:designation to lv2:Designation.
  • Make lv2:Parameter rdfs:subClassOf rdf:Property.
  • Reserve minor version 0 for unstable development plugins.
Version 8.2 (2012-10-14)
  • Use consistent label style.
Version 8.0 (2012-04-17)
  • Fix LV2_SYMBOL_EXPORT and lv2_descriptor prototype for Windows.
  • Add metadata concept of a designation, a channel or parameter description which can be assigned to ports for more intelligent use by hosts.
  • Add new discovery API which allows libraries to read bundle files during discovery, makes library construction/destruction explicit, and adds extensibility to prevent future breakage.
  • Relax the range of lv2:index so it can be used for things other than ports.
  • Remove lv2:Resource, which turned out to be meaningless.
  • Add lv2:CVPort.
  • Merge with unified LV2 package.
Version 6.0 (2011-11-21)
  • Rename core.lv2 and lv2.ttl to lv2core.lv2 and lv2core.ttl to adhere to modern conventions.
  • Add lv2:extensionData and lv2:ExtensionData for plugins to indicate that they support some URI for extension_data().
  • Remove lv2config in favour of the simple convention that specifications install headers to standard URI-based paths.
  • Switch to the ISC license, a simple BSD-style license (with permission of all contributors to lv2.h and its ancestor, ladspa.h).
  • Make lv2core.ttl a valid OWL 2 DL ontology.
  • Improve documentation.
Version 4.0 (2011-03-18)
  • Make doap:license suggested, but not required (for wrappers).
  • Define lv2:binary (MUST be in manifest.ttl).
  • Define lv2:minorVersion and lv2:microVersion (MUST be in manifest.ttl).
  • Define lv2:documentation and use it to document lv2core.
  • Add lv2:FunctionPlugin and lv2:ConstantPlugin classes.
  • Move lv2:AmplifierPlugin under lv2:DynamicsPlugin.
  • Loosen domain of lv2:optionalFeature and lv2:requiredFeature (to allow re-use in extensions).
  • Add generic lv2:Resource and lv2:PluginBase classes.
  • Fix definition of lv2:minimum etc. (used for values, not scale points).
  • More precisely define properties with OWL.
  • Move project metadata to manifest.
  • Add lv2:enumeration port property.
  • Define run() pre-roll special case (sample_count == 0).
Version 3.0 (2008-11-08)
  • Require that serialisations refer to ports by symbol rather than index.
  • Minor stylistic changes to lv2.ttl.
  • No header changes.
Version 2.0 (2008-02-10)
  • Initial release.